Nico Turner played dark but dreamy folk rock in a nonchalant way. Photo: Alexander Ortega
Salt Lake City took the hint that when The Depot’s doors opened at 8 p.m. and music would start at (around) 9, that United Concerts meant it: An 8:45 arrival would leave one in search for a seat in one of the chairs arranged in the venue. It wasn’t utterly packed, though—just full. Cat Power draws an interestingly eclectic crowd: professors, obligatory hippies, hipsters and maybe a vegan–straight edge kid, too. After the release of her electronica album, Sun, it seemed that there was a yearning for the older, more classic styling of Chan Marshall, and there was no better way to realize that desire than an intimate, seated setting where she would perform solo.
Nico Turner opened the evening relatively on time. She entered the stage donning a black-leather biker jacket and wore her curly mop with lackadaisical nonchalance. At first sight, she was androgynous, her gender perhaps being “rock n’ roll” or “the blues.” A stick of incense burned at the head of her black Telecaster, and she strummed at a riff. She opened her set with a dream-drone number, wherein she strummed effects-laden riffs in triplets to generate a spacy atmosphere. Her second song was a more straightforward Americana number where she picked at her guitar and sang with a timbre not unlike Marshall’s (although it’s difficult to match the ease and fullness that characterizes Cat Power’s sound).
At first, the incense seemed a bit hokey, a bit too nostalgic for something that the United States hasn’t yet recycled. As the smoke streamed from the crown of her axe, though, the romance of it all matched the essence of her dreary folk rock songs, and she made it work. A couple songs in, and Turner earned the approval of the crowd—most notably the belly dancers who, though unseen, made their presences known with “la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la” cheers. Turner utilized a flange-like effect in a couple songs with vocal echoes that allowed her music to expand and undulate like waves breaching sand. Turner’s voice also resembles that of True Widow’s Nicole Estill in that there was a dulcet facet that splashed in the soft soundscape. Her songs retained a charming simplicity, demonstrated by her minimal power chord changes, yet, somehow, remained interesting throughout her set. It was endearing to witness Turner’s slightly burnout demeanor as she ended songs awkwardly and sometimes abruptly. She’s a talented artist, and definitely earned her keep on this bill. She only played for what seemed like 25 minutes—it would have been nice to hear and see a little more.